Is ‘The League’ Good for Fantasy Anway?

Regardless of how FX’s “The League” chooses to treat fantasy football (or not) in its episodes, I’ve come to the realization that the show itself might be a good testament to the strength of our industry after all.

I have to admit that when I saw “League” co-creator Jackie Marcus Schafer listed as the keynote speaker for the upcoming FSTA winter conference, my initial reaction was along the lines of: “Cool, maybe someone can ask her why they’re not interested in fantasy football.”

After I actually put a bit more thought into it, though, the stated subject of Schafer’s address — “the creation of their program and Hollywood’s perception of the fantasy sports industry — brought me to the new realization.

I was excited at the outset about a program that planned to center on (or at least heavily involve) fantasy football in its subject matter and was disappointed to see football get short shrift in the first two episodes (which is how far I made it before quitting the show). Perhaps, however, it’s just that short shrift that displays fantasy’s growing clout.

Here’s a new sitcom entering what has always been an extremely competitive market (TV) that doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to prove yourself. The show creators decided that fantasy football was the way to sell their platform, to hook a potential audience. The material has proved that they have no real message to convey on the fantasy front, so one has to assume that those folks simply believed drilling into the fantasy well could foster broadcast success.

Now, we’ve increasingly seen in recent times where companies create and/or partner with fantasy games online to engage potential customers and encourage Web traffic, and we’ve witnessed too many instances of non-fantasy contests claiming to be fantasy to entice participants. Having a television show trying to position itself by calling out to fantasy players, however, seems to be another step up the leverage ladder. If the show succeeds, perhaps we’ll see others from the entertainment industry trying to tap in.

We’ll see what Schafer has found out about fantasy’s standing (and perhaps understanding) in Hollywood, but from here the rise simply looks continuous.


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